Walking toward a common goal

Los Medanos College’s Alpha Gamma Sigma honor’s society joined Oakley community members in their walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention.
The national American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Greater San Francisco Bay Area chapter held one of its Out of the Darkness community walks Saturday, Oct. 10, to for loved ones to commemorate those who have died from suicide and to educate others about this ongoing issue.
The community walk, which was officially supposed to begin at 10 a.m. but actually didn’t take off until at 10:35 a.m. due to a delay in organizing the finish line and getting the participants in place to start walking, kicked off at Cypress Grove Park in Oakley and was accompanied by various festivities, such as barbecuing and local musicians playing music.
AGS honors society members attended the walk and helped with various stages of the event – from set up to cleanup – depending on what shift they signed up for, said AGS Vice President Ines Torres, and who that about half of those who attended also participated in the walk itself.
“The out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk was a great and special experience,” said AGS Treasurer Clare Dinh. “I helped set up, cheer people on, handed people water and cleaned up at the end.”
Along with being a California community college honors society, AGS values giving back and members can earn points for performing community service and participation in this event could count toward each student’s 100-point semester goal.
But that wasn’t the only reason AGS members decided to help out with and take part in the awareness walk.
“I went ‘cause it is something I hold dear and I wanted to help out with the cause,” explained Dinh, who lost someone close to her from suicide.
And although not all members of AGS had such a personal connection with the issue, like AGS Vice President Ines Torres, they desired to be there for the people who did.
Torres, who participated in the actual walk, said he “wanted to support those who have overcome a tremendous obstacle in their life and spread awareness about prevention and [the] signs of suicide.”
According to SF chapter’s Board of Director Chair Gordon Doughty and his wife Board Member Janis Doughty, the foundation puts on three different types of Out of the Darkness walks to support their efforts — community walks, campus walks and overnight walks — in which all donations go toward programs such as the Youth and Teen Suicide Prevention, Yellow Ribbon Foundation, Wounded Warriors, designed to help veterans, and those with mental illness within the community. And this is an issue they hold close to their own hearts.
“We’ve lost our young 16-year-old,” said Janis Doughty, adding that it was a sunny October day when her child, who had suffered from clinical depression since age 10, died.
“It takes such a long time to cope and to confront, but you realize doing these events for the community, takes so much to give in and to have other people understand our story,” she said.
As reported by the website of Clinical Psychologist and Mental Health Advocate David Susman, it is estimated that as many as 41,000 Americans took their own lives in 2013 – that’s about 113 per day – and that “about 90 percent of people in a suicidal crisis will give some kind of warning to those around them.”
The foundation will also be sponsoring other upcoming local events including an overnight walk in Oakland Oct. 17 from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. the following day and another over night walk in San Francisco May 21-22. Fore more information on these upcoming events or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention go to afsp.org.

Jamari Snipes contributed to this report.